Social Gatherings and Events

When making decisions about going to public spaces or attending social events, it's important to think about the risk of spreading COVID-19. Factors to consider include your own ability to wear a mask or vaccination status, your risk for developing severe COVID-19, and whether you live with someone at higher risk for developing severe illness. 

Individuals should consider the following before attending a social gathering:

  • Vaccination status: The best way to protect yourself and others at a gathering is to get vaccinated. If you are gathering with people you know, encourage them to get vaccinated as well.
  • Level of COVID-19 spread in the community: Higher levels of COVID-19 in the community where the gathering will be held or where the attendees are coming from mean that there is a higher risk that someone could be infected with COVID-19. VDH has developed a dashboard to help make decisions based on data.
  • The number of people at the gathering: If there are many people in a space, it may be harder to stay at least 6 feet from others. The risk of COVID-19 spread also increases if there are more people at the event or if they come from many different places. If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, you could consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.
  • Location: Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings. Gatherings in large, well-ventilated spaces are safer than gatherings in smaller spaces that are not well-ventilated. 
  • Duration: Spending less time with people outside your household is safer than spending longer periods of time.
  • Behavior of people attending the gathering: If people have not been following COVID-19 precautions before the event, then there is a greater risk of someone having it who attends the event and potentially spreading it to other attendees. Practicing safe behaviors during the event, like distancing and wearing masks, can prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the event. Certain activities, including cheering or singing, are known to increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. If people are drinking alcohol, they may be less likely to keep at least 6 feet from others, wear a mask, or not shout

See the tabs below for information about specific public or social settings.

CDC's Guidance for Families with Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Members can be found here

Recommendations for the safe operation of libraries can be found here.

It’s important to celebrate the special moments! Connecting with family and friends is vital to maintaining our emotional well-being, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, plan ahead to have a healthy and happy holiday season.  The best way to protect your loved ones this season is to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Remember to get your annual flu shot, too. CDC provides Guidelines for Holiday Celebrations [Español]. If you are traveling for the holidays, be sure to review international and domestic travel guidelines here.

Top Holiday Tips:

  1. Get vaccinated, and get your booster if you're eligible.
  2. Wear a mask in public indoor spaces.
  3. Gather outside, or in well ventilated areas.
  4. Stay at home and get tested if you're having any symptoms of COVID-19.
  5. Wash your hands frequently, including before and after preparing food.

Wondering about getting tested? If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households, consider taking a test before the gathering to further reduce your risk of spreading COVID-19 at the event. If you are traveling, getting tested before or after travel is recommended for certain people. Find the latest testing recommendations here.

Consider the following risk levels when making plans to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones this year:   

Low Risk Activities

  • Virtual parties with your friends and family.
  • Celebrating at home, with the people that live with you.

Medium Risk Activities

  • Indoor gatherings with fully vaccinated individuals from different households.
  • Outdoor gatherings with individuals from different households where not everyone may be vaccinated.

High Risk Activities

  • Large, indoor gatherings with people from different households who are unvaccinated.
  • Celebrating in indoor, poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Events where large groups of people stand close together while cheering, singing, or loudly celebrating. 
  • Traveling to a gathering in another community for individuals who are unvaccinated.